Survey reveals significant financial challenges facing students, which jeopardize degree completion and student loan repayment

Round Rock, TX — Students struggling to meet the high cost of college find that unexpected expenses of just a few hundred dollars could threaten their ability to stay in school and graduate. This is among the findings of the newly released Student Financial Wellness Survey (SFWS) from Trellis Company (formerly TG).

Offering a deeper understanding of the connection between student success and financial stress, the ongoing survey, designed and managed by Trellis’ Research Team, aims to provide a benchmark for schools across the country that have initiatives to improve the financial literacy and economic stability needed for students to fulfill their academic potential. The study also equips policymakers with actionable insights regarding programs that address college affordability, student debt, and collegiate financial wellness.

The Spring 2018 implementation of the Trellis SFWS surveyed 53,693 undergraduate students from 12 colleges and universities in three states. In addition to aggregated results, participating schools receive individualized reports on the financial wellness of their student body to help inform their student success initiatives.

Key overall findings:

  • 57% of students say they would have trouble getting $500 in cash or credit to meet an unexpected need within the next month.
  • 46% of students have run out of money three or more times in the past year.
  • 40% of students show signs of housing insecurity – struggling to pay rent/utilities or the need to move frequently.
  • 36% of students show signs of very low food security – skipping meals, eating less or less nutritious food – due to finances.
  • 38% of students indicate that it is important to them to support their family financially while in school.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents are not confident they will be able to pay off the debt they acquired while in school.

“A number of these findings are obviously troubling,” said Jeff Webster, Trellis Director of Research. “This ongoing study is a great opportunity to provide colleges and policymakers with analysis that can help improve student success at the individual campus and national level. There’s more work ahead for all of us,” said Webster.

Additional institutions are encouraged to participate. Enrollment for the Fall 2018 and 2019 implementations of the Trellis SFWS is now underway. Participating in this comprehensive online survey is free, and each school receives a customized report of their results.

For more information about enrolling your institution, please visit: Student Financial Wellness Survey – Process to Participate. For complete results of the Spring 2018 Trellis SWFS, visit


Trellis Company, formerly TG, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation with the dual mission of helping student borrowers successfully repay their education loans and promoting access and success in higher education.

We have a nearly 40-year successful track record of delivering positive outcomes for students and institutions. Our strong philanthropic heritage of giving through grants to colleges, universities, and research groups remains focused on improving student outcomes, especially to assist underserved students and families, and to help institutions navigate the changing landscape of higher education.

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